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32yrs old, Non smoker with Stage 4 Lung Cancer

R Hodges

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Hi Everyone, 


My name Is Ryan and i thought i would share my story. 


Im 32yrs old, fit, active and healthy guy living in Australia and received the devastating news on 4th of Nov that i had stage 4 lung cancer of the NSCLC type. 


I need to go back a couple of months to to explain what was happening in the lead up to my diagnosis. I am asthmatic and have been since i was young and during the year i could feel that my breathing was tight and i knew that something was not right. I went to my doctor a number of times and was prescribed more and more asthma medication, no change.


After months of this and numerous visits to this doctor i was not getting anywhere and really wanting answers so i changed doctors. At about the same time i got the Flu and was extremely run down. Presenting these symptoms to my doctor she decided to send me for an xray. I  got a call shortly after the xray with the news that i had pneumonia!! Wow i thought, how does this happen. I mean i knew i was burning the candle at both ends with work, exercise and was run down but don't really old people get pneumonia?


So i started to rest a little to allow my body to heal and waited to have my follow up xray. In this time i noticed my breathing still not improving and as i was training for a Crossfit competition coming up this was concerning. It had been about 2 months since my first xray and i was really struggling to breathe on a daily basis. I went back to my doctor one last time and we had a plan that if i could not get in with a specialist then i was going to admit myself to hospital. 

I had my xrays which showed no improvement. this was the first sign that there was something not right. This was monday morning and so my doctor arranged for a CT scan later that day. 


I had my scan that night and while waiting around after the doctor there was asking me a heap of questions "have i been losing weight? have i this, have i that". This didn't give me a great feeling either and i knew it was something more serious than pneumonia.


On wed that week i got in to see the specialist who looked at my scan and said "it could be something viral, or it could be something really nasty like cancer". She didn't want to say and so i was off for a biopsy now on friday to find out for sure.


Biopsy day and im in hospital surrounded by elderly people and doctors coming in to check on my info before the operation and all i heard was "what are you doing here, you looking too young and fit to be here". To which my response was "you're the doctor, you tell me". Again this didn't give me a good feeling.


The weekend came and went and i was expecting my results the following wednesday. I was on my way home from work tuesday night and was speaking to my parents and saying i havn't heard anything so no news is good news, how wrong i was.


I had a call coming through from my specialist who sounded distressed. She asked me if i was with loved ones, i was with my wife. So she cut to the chase very quickly and i heard the words that i never thought i would hear......You have lung cancer! Wow! She had arranged for me to see an oncologist the next morning at 9am which i was very grateful for and thats the only reason she rang was so she could let me know and get me in with the oncologist asap. 


My wife and i sat on the bed and said the words out loud and just cried. Why and how were the first things that popped into my head then the fact that my wife was 10 weeks pregnant hit home hard too that would i be around to see my first child? So many things to think about and right now so much unknown. 


Telling family was the hardest thing as it made it very real. I am the youngest of two and i would say that im the rock of the family. Im the young brother who turned his life around around from being really overweight to being a healthy, active, strong motivated person who never smoked a day in his life too. 


Wednesday morning came and my wife and I head to the oncologist where he delivered the official news that i had stage 4 Adenocarcinoma lung cancer in a non smoker. We spoke a little about treatment options and that he was getting my biopsy tested for the particular EGFR receptors for treatment but said that we were looking at "managing this for quality of life rather than longevity of life"! Wow that really hit home deep. 

I had about 10 small tumors in both lungs and a main mass in the lower right lobe which was about 2inches in size. 


So we left that day knowing only that we had to wait a week or so for the test results and would then go from there. My oncologist did say something to me which really helped my deal with the situation and really set our mindset, he said "the sooner you accept you have cancer the better off you will be". I took that day and thought about what he said. I accepted that i had cancer but in no way would i accept that this would control my life and determine how and when i exited this earth, i was going to live on my terms. 


We changed my nutrition instantly to cut out all processed foods and got back to basics. Organic vedgies and meat, no dairy and sugar and made sure that i was giving my body and immune system everything it needed to be fully healthy to take up the fight. Nutrition i can not say enough about and i believe it has changed my life for the better. I wish i did this 15 years ago. 


We got the test results and the great news that i had one of the mutations for the EGFR treatment through TARCEVA. 


Within days of starting TARCEVA i noticed my breathing improving. My breathing was so bad that i was out of breath just talking and by the end of the day was so tired cause every breath was a struggle so this was pure relief. 


the days went on and i kept on improving. I then started to be able to exercise again. It was slow at first but each day and each week i was able to breathe a little better and so i was able to do a little more. 

Im a keen cyclist and i found this a great way to get my fitness up without putting too much stress on it. My oncologist told me that my days of 100km + rides were over with............really?! Within a month i rode 107km and felt great. (I love proving people wrong). 


Within two months i was riding 3 times a week, back training at the gym and feeling better than i ever had cause my nutrition was so good. 


My next CT scan to see how the progress was going was scheduled for 2 months after i started my treatment. I knew there would be some improvement cause my breathing had improved so much and i was feeling so good but i had no idea how much. 


Getting the CT scan was a very nervous day until i read the report. "Almost all of the small tumors had gone completely and the main mass has shrunk in excess of 50%"!! This was the best news ever and just spurred me on to keep improving my nutrition and health and fighting this thing with everything till its gone completely. 


So its only been 3 months since starting my treatment and my new way of life which is every facet from nutrition, mindset, gratefulness to stopping to enjoy the little things and i only see things getting better. I only see a future with me having absolutely no cancer at all and having gained so much from this that i can hopefully share my story and potentially help others or even if i only help my kids (which my first is due on the 5th of July) then i would have done everything i can.


Im sure there will be ups and downs in the road ahead but for now things are great and im going to focus on the now.


thanks for reading my story and if there is anything anyone wants to know please let me know.


Take care and keep smiling   :)










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Gald your doing better all things considered... Changing diet is good thing..


I can give you a link in here tofind  more info on that subject and some great recipes as wel l!!! http://forums.lungevity.org/index.php?/forum/25-healthy-living-recipes/


It is hard getting that initial diagnosis... butfirst  off dont listen when a doct or says this is how much time you have left...only one person knows that and we haveno t met him yet. LOL.. I ahve seen a lot of folks here laugh at that statement years later.


Keep up the fighting spirit very important!!! this forumis  good for boosting that sometimes when your kind of down..http://forums.lungevity.org/index.php?/forum/4-hope/


Looking forward to hearing lots more great things from you !!! welcome to the place no one wants to be but is  glad they found!!!

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Hi Ryan,


Sorry you are at this site and so young. I too started with the diagnosis of asthma and then pneumonia. Went on for a long time until the dr finally ordered a chest x-ray.  I did smoke when I was younger but believe it or not, I was a physical education teacher, weight lifter, aerobics instructor and the last 15 years a personal trainer. I have always been very physically active and nutrition played a big part in this. I was diagnosed in Sept, 2014 for stage IV with mets to my vertebra and ribs. After 2 biopsies in the lung, no mutations have been found and I am on chemo. Still fast walking 2-3 miles a day and back to light weight lifting. Feel great and have 1 more treatment before the cat scan. Hope I get good results!


You sound very positive and I can feel the high you get through your workouts. I know I don't have to tell you to keep going because you will anyway! Doctors cannot tell us when our time is up....mine gave me 6-12 months and I don't believe them. 


Where has your lung cancer metastasized?

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Greetings Ryan.   So glad you found us and shared your journey.  Great news that all your tumors have responded so well to the Tarceva !   WOW !


It is sad that most people don't realize that you don't have to be a smoker or old to get lung cancer. 


Boy your baby is do pretty soon ,  is it due in April?   Hope you share that good news with us too.


Sounds like you are tolerating the Tarceva well also.  Please keep us posted on how things are going.


Donna G

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Hi Ryan, thank you for sharing your story! Welcome to the message boards. I'm so happy to read that you are doing well.

 If you have any recipes you'd like to share with us please feel free to post them in the link that RandyW posted above. I look forward to seeing more of your inspiring posts and getting to know you better.

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Hey Ryan - we are new to this also, and were really excited to hear of your success - I'm Tania and my neighbour has been diagnosed with what sounds like exactly the same thing - NSCLC stage 4, adenocarcinoma. she has never been a smoker and has lived a fit and active lifestyle. The tumors are through both lungs but are absolutely nowhere else in her body. she starts her chemo of Gemcitabine and Carboplatin this week. It appears that Tarceva is only offered in NZ after you have done a full round of IV chemo. Did you have to do IV chemo first? Thanks Tania

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